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Why is Science Literacy so Important?

IF2Science, technology and innovation are increasingly important to our economic well-being and quality of life. At Let’s Talk Science, we define “science literacy” broadly to include science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Science literacy helps us understand and shape our daily lives. It helps us as we interact with our environment, asking questions and seeking answers. This question-and-answer process lies at the heart of knowing and doing science. It’s a way of thinking and knowing about the natural and physical components of the world we live in.

While the importance of science in our daily lives may not always be obvious, we actually make countless science-based choices each day. For managing our health and well-being, science literacy plays a key role.

Whether we’re choosing products to consume in our daily routines and considering their impact on the environment, or making informed decisions about our health care, science plays a part.

Science not only shapes our daily lives, it is also the foundation of an innovative culture and can be found at the core of significant political decisions. Understanding science is crucial for all Canadians so we can be informed and have an impact on our country’s future.

Let’s Talk Science uses science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as our primary learning and engagement platform to provide impactful programs and services that develop science literacy, build critical skills and foster the joy of learning.

By combining active, hands-on/minds-on STEM learning experiences with research and problem-solving opportunities, we’re helping Canadian youth build an understanding of what it means to know science.

Doing science develops our ability to ask questions, collect information, organize and test our ideas, problem-solve and apply what we learn. Even more, science offers a powerful platform for building confidence, developing communication skills and making sense of the world around us – a world that is increasingly shaped by science and technology.

Dal Harbour Youth Camp. Science is inclusive

Everyone can be included and engaged in science by linking daily personal experiences to science, regardless of where they live, how they live or what language they speak.

Our collective science knowledge comes from the contributions of many different cultures and people over time. Access to science education develops confidence and builds positive self image for all learners, regardless of culture, gender, race, social class or religious beliefs. At Let’s Talk Science, we invite you to join in!

Science crosses subjects

Outside of school, we don’t section our lives into biology, chemistry and physics periods – yet science underpins nearly all of our everyday life. Let’s Talk Science supports a multi-disciplinary approach to science engagement and we use big ideas like energy as well as focused concepts like magnetism to show the many connections that can be made across traditional subject areas.

Science can also be found in history, geography, philosophy, physical education, the arts and other subject areas. Understanding time periods in history and societies, for example, involves learning about scientific innovations and technology used during those periods. Science is also very much intertwined in the creative world of art, dance and music. It’s science that allows us to understand how we hear music, how we move our bodies to dance and how our eyes see art.

Science develops literacy skills

Child Learning, Photo Credit - Cody Storm Cooper

Learning opportunities linking science to other subject areas provide a rich context for integrating science, technology, mathematics and language concepts and skills. Integrated programs help learners understand concepts across different subjects, enabling them to make connections within a particular subject area. Integration of different sciences can also help learners connect concepts and explicitly link different disciplines of science.

Language and literacy skills are integral to knowing and doing science. Reading, writing and speaking are all essential to comprehending and communicating scientific issues and ideas. Engaging hands-on/minds-on STEM learning experiences provide valuable context for students to develop literacy skills through reading and writing informational and non-fiction text.

Literacy in science, however, is much more than just reading and writing. It involves understanding the impact science has on our world and provides an opportunity to debate issues through written, oral or visual presentations. This gives students opportunities to read, write, defend and communicate their findings in meaningful ways, while helping raise science awareness in audience members in doing so.

Outreach Activity

Science develops numeracy skills

Numeracy, like language and literacy, is essential to doing science. The skills of sorting and classifying, estimating and counting, measuring, graphing, collecting data and analyzing are frequently used when doing science.

Science investigations provide authentic and relevant opportunities to learn and use numeracy skills within the context of science. For instance, understanding and predicting how forces act on a structure involves science, mathematics and design technology through data collection, measurement, presentation and interpretation skills.

Science develops general and technical skills

IF-Industry-June2010Welding-WorkshopScience is a way of knowing and thinking about the natural and physical world that surrounds us. Observing, measuring, inferring, classifying, predicting and communicating are some of the skills that are fundamental to science investigations, problem solving and decision making. These key skills all contribute to science as a body of knowledge and a way of knowing.

Conducting science investigations and explorations involves use of inquiry skills. Inquiry is a circular process; the conclusions can take the learner back to the original question and lead to more questions, involving other learners in the process. By formulating their own questions, planning, and conducting investigations, learners build new meanings, understanding and knowledge. This helps develop their critical thinking, reasoning and decision-making skills that will serve a learner for a lifetime.

Science also requires using technical skills, which are important to procedures used in various disciplines of science, such as doing a titration in chemistry or using a spring scale in physics. Part of learning these technical skills is developing an understanding of the safety considerations involved when handling materials and equipment and performing experiments.

Science is powerful and important

As we think about the future that lies ahead and the global issues that must be resolved such as climate change and global access to food, drinking water and health care it becomes even clearer why science literacy is fundamental to life in the 21st Century. Join Let's Talk Science and help us prepare a generation of learners to thrive and lead.